Final Blog EDTech 541

Throughout this course, I diligently researched and developed effective classroom activites, infusing technology tools with goal of enhancing teaching and student learning. The weekly texts we read, whether it was the required text or other relevant articles, I formulated a stronger rationale for technology use in the classroom. It is imperative educators embrace technology, get it into the hands of the students daily, so they are productive digitial citizens in the future. Through the weekly assignments, I challenged myself to locate and evaluate communication strategies high school students would need for their careers, but still meet the standards that I needed to address. I became more empowered to allow students to have their own direction in their learning knowing this critical thinking, collaboration, problem solving, and innovative mindset will be essential. As the course continued, I would strive to keep these components in every lesson. I have also come to the conclusion that teachers do not give our students enough credit for what they can do with technology. I wonder if this is because we, as educators, are still not as comfortable with it, unlike our “digital native” students.

With the knowledge obtained throughout this course, it has solidified my role is still just as critical for our district as it was before. As a current Technology Integration Specialist, I need to continue to research teaching and learning with technology, locate and evaluate various technology tools, and continue to be a support system so teachers become confident with educational technology. This specific course allowed me to dig deeper into evaluating websites and tools, now I can coach my colleagues these strategies.

As far as the work I completed that demonstrates mastery of the AECT standards, most assignments met the requirements of content knowledge and content pedagogy. Assignments required me to create, use, and assess technology use. Each lesson or activity that was developed demonstrates my innate ability to select resources that will support student learning as I am enhancing my teaching strategies in a communications course. Though these lessons are specific for this type of class, each lesson can be modified and used in and content area because communication skills are essential in any curriculum. Having the ability to adapt a lesson to fit the needs of any student and content area is absolutely critical for a Technology Integration Specialist. Lessons were designed to have the students in control and become more responsible of their own learning. Students have choice and voice and builds student agency, creating a 21st Century learner.

In addition to reading and lesson design, we reflected on each week’s focus on our blog. This synthesis process established connections from the content focus was for the week and my current vision and teaching methods. Based on the rubric, I believe I showed proficient content in each of my posts. There was substantial information included in each post that connected to the content and my current teaching practices and vision. I referenced the text or other relevant articles for my posts, though one or two posts may need to have some in text citations. All of my posts were completed in time for others to comment on and I replied to 2 peers every week.

With this said, here is my assessment based on my performance.

Content – 65 points, I can always include more content with connections. Is it ever done?

Readings/Resources – 18 points

Timeliness – 20 points

Responses – 30 points

Total 133/140 points

 

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Accessibility Features on My Computer-Chromebook

Assistive technology is any piece of equipment that allows a person to be more successful in their learning and use of a device. Our district is 1:1 Chromebook in grades 3-12. I choose to review the Accessibility Menu our devices currently have and then locate other possible Chrome Extensions that are available for our students who would need accomodations.

Chromebooks in general have useful accessibility tools students can use to help create a more successful learning experience in the classroom. To access the list of options, students initially go to their settings, scroll down to the Accessibility section and enable the features they need. Here is a list of features already included on a chromebook, the learning difficulties it can assist  and the description of what it does.

  • Enable the Accessibility Menu in the status bar: Any student can benefit from this change as it eliminates the step of continually going into settings to enable certain features.
  • Large mouse cursor: To assist students who have visual difficulties, this feature makes the cursor bigger and easier to see.
  • High contrast mode: To assist students who have visual difficulties, this feature makes text easier to read. The screen is black, text is white, and the links are yellow.
  • ChromeVox (spoken feedback): Students who have cognitive difficulties or attention difficulties can use this feature to help focus on sections on the screen.
  • Screen magnifier: Students will visual difficulties can use this feature to makes items on the screen bigger.
  • Tap dragging: Students will physical difficulties can use this feature to move objects on the screen, by tapping and dragging your finger rather than using the normal 2 fingers on the mousepad.
  • Sticky keys: Students who have physical difficulties  Holds down the ChromeVox keys so you don’t have to press them first every time.
  • Automatically click when the mouse pointer stops: Another feature for students with physical difficulties, they can click without using your mouse.

If these tools are not reaching all students, there are extensions that can be downloaded from the Chrome Web Store. An essential component of using Chrome or Chromebooks, is once the student logs completely into Chrome, the extensions are synced and students can use the tools on any computer. The following list of extensions are free and can be downloaded to allow these students to be more successful in their learning.

  • Chrome Speak and Announcify extensions will read the text that is located on the webpage. Students selects or highlights the items and the computer will read it orally to the student.  
  • The Readability extension can assist students by changing the look of the webpage. The critical content, the article, will open in another window without the extra ads and such that are normally included on a website.
  • Cortexit extension is useful for students who need large sections of text to be broken down into smaller parts for better understanding. Students who are dyslexic, attention difficulties or vision issues would benefit from this extension.
  • Scribe extension is great for all students who are researching on the web. It has a complete set of annotation tools that can assist students in highlighting text, saving bookmarks and taking notes.

 

Bryne, R. (2014, May 21). Good chrome extensions for students will disabilities. [Web logged post]. Retrieved from http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2014/05/good-chrome-extensions-for-students.html#.Vkx4xFWrSgA

Martin, Jamie. (2015, March 12). Google for dyslexia: Chrome extensions (part two). [Web logged post] Retrieved from https://www.noodle.com/articles/7-google-chrome-extensions-that-help-students-with-dyslexia

Roblyer, M.D. (2016). Technology tools for the 21st century teaching: The basic suite. In M. Fossel, M. Feliberty (Eds.), Integrating educational technology into teaching. (pp. 106-137) Upper Saddle River, NJ. Pearson Education, Inc. (7th ed.)

Tangient, LLC. (n.d) Retrieved November 18, 2015 from AndreasHead Wiki: https://andreashead.wikispaces.com/Google+Chrome++Apps+for+Accessibility

Obstacles and Solutions to Integrating Technology in the Classroom

Advances in technology has led to some very innovative ways of teaching and learning in the classrooms that have it. Many benefits have been discovered through the process of integration, however, there have been some challenges in this rather large undertaking of implementing it.

One common obstacle to integrating technology is preparing our teachers for effective use. Often times, technology is purchased and then placed into the classrooms of teachers who have had inadequate training and knowledge of best practices with technology. A solution for this barrier is to have conversations and common visions when a district or school is starting to talk about purchasing the devices. As the conversations are developing, begin the professional development process with the teachers who will be using it. Offer various sessions before school during school and after school to meet the needs of all individuals. Many professional development sessions are now taking place online, in an asynchronous time frame, personalizing the PD for teachers. Our district is training our Technology and Learning Coaches to be “Peer Coaches” where they work with individual teachers for a year, providing on the spot and relevant training because it was based on the teachers’ need/desire. Many times, PD is offered and though it is a fabulous topic/training, the teachers are not using it right away, it is not meaningful to them. We are finding teachers need to learn to use the tool when it is most relevant.

“So, we have technology, but the internet is not working?” “A student’s device is broke, but I do not have another one for him to use until it is fixed.” Common phrases heard by teachers when they start to use it, but something out of their control creates an issue. Infrastructure and technology support is another barrier teachers have when they are integrating on a routine basis. As a district, how do you manage so many devices? How do you sustain the technology when something breaks down? I think plans should be in place before a school or district fully implements technology use. The more successful opportunities teachers have will lead to continued and routine use, enhancing teaching and learning.

The last obstacle to note is the many programs available, it takes time and energy to determine which are the best ones. Time is already allocated to other tasks and to add another component to the “plate” can be discouraging to the teacher. It can also be very daunting to take on if you are unfamiliar with how to approach a new website and evaluate for effectiveness. Digital Immigrants are not comfortable with simply clicking buttons to see what will happen.  One solution our district has implemented is a Digital Starter Kit for Grades 3-12 and PreK-2. This is a suggested list for a teacher who is novice to technology use in the classroom. It has helped our new teachers and veteran teachers start somewhere, build successful lessons to continue the momentum of using technology.

Norris, C. and Soloway, E. (Nov/Dec 2011). The 10 barriers to technology adoption; Technology will absolutely change K12 learning. District Administration. Retrieved from
Ramey, K. (2013, December 19). Barriers to the effective use of technology in education. [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.useoftechnology.com/barriers-effective-technology-education/
Winnet, D. Four challenges teachers face when they integrated technology in the teaching. Retrieved from http://www.iccb.state.il.us/student/pdf/resource/chanllenges.pdf 

Relative advantages of using technology in content areas

Integrating technology into a communications course has many advantages. In general, if designed properly, technology can enhance the curriculum, simplify some aspects of teaching and learning, and create a more personalized learning experience for any student.  Many online resources, if designed appropriately, will supplement the curriculum in any content area. Technology use in the classroom can also support and encourage life skills, digital literacy, and 4C’s; communciation, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity.

With the use of technology in the classroom, educators have an opportunity to deliver of the content to meet the needs to every student, thus beginning to personalize the learning of all students in any content area. Best practices require teachers to analyze learning styles, the various student abilities, as well as what drives the student to learn to effectively teach every student. Technology can offer differentiation through online programs and flexibility in the pace of their own learning. Many of these programs will give receive immediate feedback, encouraging the students to have relevant and timely information to scaffold their learning, again making their learning personal and meaningful.

With the various types of web 2.0 tools available, students are able to experience things that may not have been available before. Access to knowledge is immediate and so are people. In a communication course, students need examples, people, and opportunities to make connections to become a better communicator.

Technology also offers students choice and voice in their learning whether it is through accessing, engaging, and expressing the knowledge they have learned. Students are collaborating, their creativity is fostered, and their work is published to a larger audience-worldwide. These advantages are probably comparable to any content area in education.

Roblyer, M.D. (2016). Technology tools for the 21st century teaching: The basic suite. In M. Fossel, M. Feliberty (Eds.), Integrating educational technology into teaching. (pp. 106-137) Upper Saddle River, NJ. Pearson Education, Inc. (7th ed.)

Relative Advantages of Game Based Learning

Game based learning, GBL, can be defined as a type of game play that has specific learning goals. It is designed for the students to learn, retain and apply the content to the real world (Editorial Group, 2013). However, not everyone has this same mindset, resulting in GBL being considered a controversial subject. The most frequent concerns of using games in the classroom is the amount of screen time, it replaces the teacher and peer interactions, and whether the content is relevant or not (Kline 2014). Yet, there are many advantages in using games in the classroom if used in a meaningful way and balanced with other learning methods.

I feel that one critical component of using games is for the ease of differentiating and personalizing the learning for each student. Many programs, such as Reflex Math and Lexia Core 5, are tailored to the student based on a pre-assessment conducted during the introduction to the particular online resource. These games will also give immediate feedback, informing students in a more timely manner. Many games build basic skills, such as math and read fluency. Those skills are built upon each other, providing essential scaffolding, and can then be applied to another content. Games can also help in the development of their logic, their accuracy and problem solving. Many situational games require students to make decisions quickly and through routine opportunities can become more effecient problem solvers. Ultimately, when it comes down to it, it grabs and sustains the student’s attention because they are actively engaged in their own learning and it is fun for them.

In one of the articles I read, Kline discusses 2 recent studies with students using games. A study conducted in Ireland found 62 percent of people who play online games are more empathetic for different cultures and people, compared to 50 percent of people who do not play games. They wonder whether this same idea, allowing students to play games with others worldwide could develop a more empathetic community. Kline discusses another study that promotes the notion of playing fast paced games increases someone’s attention, quick reflex, complex motor and cognitive demands. Game based learning is fairly new, so I feel that more studies need to be conducted at various levels, with different purposes, to determine the direct impact of this learning method.

Resources:

Editorial Team. (2013, April 23) What is GBL (game-based learning)? [Msg] Message posted to http://edtechreview.in/dictionary/298-what-is-game-based-learning

Ledda, R. (2015). Benefits of using games-based learning in Education. [Msg] Message posted to https://www.educatornetwork.com/HotTopics/gamesbasedlearning/benefits

Shapiro, J. (2014, June 13) Benefits of gaming; what reseach shows. [Msg] Message posted to http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/06/13/benefits-of-gaming-what-research-shows/

TeamThought Staff. (2013, March 15). 6 benefits of games-based learning. [Msg] Message posted to http://www.teachthought.com/video-games-2/6-basic-benefits-of-game-based-learning/

Acceptable Use Policies

The purpose of an AUP, Acceptable Use Policy, is to inform the public what is considered appropriate and not appropriate in terms of technology and internet use. While there is not a correct or incorrect way of developing an AUP, there are some commonalities I found while reading various district AUPs. Common Sense Media has created useful guidelines and steps that districts can use to develop an effective AUP. This tool can be used in conjunction with researching what other districts have done to make a successful learning environment for their learners.

Most AUPs begin with a vision or mission statement, a summary of what the goals and benefits of technology use will be in the district. The vision statements I have read all set a positive tone for the users to understand this is an important privilege for end users to have in order to have a successful learning environment and develop essential skills for future experiences.

The next section either lists the actions that are acceptable, or not acceptable, when using a device or internet. In the AUP examples I have found, it was written differently in each case. Medford schools created three separate AUPs with age appropriate verbiage and topics. Each statement clearly states what they can and cannot do and gives examples of the action. Nueva School uses a Q & A format to discuss critical actions when using email, account information and laptops. Brownsburg School District includes a thorough description of topics such as policies, access, netiquette, and downloads to inform the user in more detail then lists acceptable and not acceptable actions. Either format can work for any district, but as a team it is critical to determine what would work best for your system. It is the content that is placed into this section that is most important so determining safe guidelines for all participants and consequences for violations should be a deep conversation for team members in development phase.

Other sections or topics that can be found in AUPs, and have a significant purpose, would be stating how it correlates with your established Code of Ethics or Code of Conduct. Also determine how the AUP procedures and guidelines align with other laws or existing policies in the state or nation. Common Sense Media gives a list of suggestion for topics that could be included in an AUP, or even student/faculty handbook, for awareness and understanding; use of network, internet safety, filtering and monitoring, copyright and ownership of work, network security and privacy, digital citizenship, and social media usage.

The final section of the AUP should be designated for individual signatures, whether it is faculty, staff, parents or student agreeing to the terms written.

My district has 2 separate forms for faculty/staff to sign and the students. As a faculty member, I was required to sign an AUP when I was first hired. Each year, we have a 13 minute video we are required to watch that discusses acceptable use. At the conclusion of that video, we click a button, electronically signing that we have watched and understand the content. Our students and parents sign a RUP, Responsible Use Procedure, through an online registration program each year, rather than a paper copy. The RUP is reviewed and revised each year if changes need to be made.

When I was a Technology and Learning Coach at a school one of my tasks in the beginning of the schools was to go into the 1:1 classrooms and discuss what the RUP said and what it meant for each section. I would give specific examples of what I had seen and experienced in my role with students their age. I thoroughly discussed the consequences for violating any procedure after they had signed the document. It was a great lesson to establish how they were held responsible for their technology use in our classrooms and school. If a violation was found I, and administration, was able to return to this signed document and discuss the event in detail with the student and parent.

Richland School District 2 Staff AUP

Richland School District 2 Student RUP

Brownsburg k12 AUP

medfordpublicschools AUP

Nueva Schools

greenville k12 AUP

Common sense media